The following content represents a series of frequently asked questions which were presented to us during our initial walk in January 2014. If you have additional specific questions you would like answered as we prepare for future walks please contact us at [email protected].
What’s the walk about?
In January, 1999, at the age of 88, Doris Haddock (aka, “Granny D”), started a walk from LA to DC with a sign on her chest that read “CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM.”
Six months after she started her walk, John McCain launched his run for president in New Hampshire with a speech in Bedford that attacked the “corruption” that the existing system of campaign finance had produced.
We will continue Granny D’s walk, along the themes of John McCain’s run: We want to recruit citizens in New Hampshire to a movement that will make this issue — the “system of corruption” that infects DC — the central issue in the 2016 presidential primary.
When does it happen?
Our initial walk began Dixville Notch on January 11th, 2014 the first anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz and ended in Nashua on January 24th, 2014 which was the anniversary of Granny D’s birth. You can see a recap of this initial walk by visiting this link. Our next collective walk takes place on July 5th and then again in January 2015.
Who will be walking?
Citizens from New Hampshire and from across the country will be joining the walk — some for just a day, many for the full 2 weeks.
How is “systemic corruption” different from “corruption”?
To most, the word “corruption” suggests criminal acts — bribery or quid pro quo influence peddling. No doubt there are criminals in Washington, as there have always been.
But we believe that the real problem of corruption in America is not the problem of criminal corruption. It is the problem of legal corruption.
The problem, in our view, is the system of influence that the system of campaign funding creates. This system is a corruption of how Congress was meant to function, even if it doesn't involve any criminal acts by any individual member.
Members of Congress spend anywhere between 30% and 70% of their time raising money to fund their campaigns or the campaigns of their colleagues. Yet they raise that money from the tiniest fraction of Americans. No more than 0.05% of Americans — about 150,000 people — are significant funders of congressional campaigns. Our campaign funding system thus makes our Congress dependent upon this tiny and unrepresentative slice of America.
The Framers of our Constitution had a different idea. They wanted a Republic with a Congress, as Madison put it, “dependent on the people alone.” When we talk about corruption in our current system for funding campaigns, we are talking about a corruption of the system that the Framers designed - our Republic. We want to build a movement to end that system of corruption.
How do these walks across New Hampshire in January end a “system of corruption”?
It doesn’t, directly. But it is a first step — or it is many first steps.
Along the way, we will recruit citizens in New Hampshire to do one critical thing: to help us guarantee that at every presidential event between now and the 2016 primary, every candidate gets asked at least this one question: “How will YOU end this system of corruption in Washington?”
By asking this question again and again as we walk across the state, and encouraging all we meet along the way to ask this question with us, we hope that New Hampshire can make this the central issue in this next campaign. This was the issue that won McCain the New Hampshire primary in 2000. We want it to determine the primaries in 2016.
But what would fix this “system of corruption”? What are the solutions?
There are so many different ideas being pushed by reformers on both the Right and the Left - all of which deserve consideration. We aren’t demanding a specific fix during the walk - what we’re asking is that politicians tell us how they intend to fix the problem.
However, just because we’re not advocating a specific fix does not mean that solutions that would work haven’t been proposed.
The easiest change would be through statute: A single law that would change the way campaigns are funded, and thereby end the corrupting dependence upon the 0.05% of us who are significant funders of campaigns.
States such as Maine, Connecticut and Arizona have adopted small-dollar public funding systems, that give candidates the incentive to raise the money they need to run in small contributions only. Similar proposals have been been advanced at the federal level — such as Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD)’s “Grassroots Democracy Act,” which matches small dollar contributions generously enough to make it feasible for winning campaigns to take small contributions only.
Other proposals, such as Congressman Tom Petri’s (R-WI) Citizen Involvement in Campaigns (CIVIC) Act, would give a tax credit and tax deduction for small contributions to political campaigns.
And likewise, Represent.US’s “American Anti-Corruption Act” would give vouchers to voters which they could use fund the campaigns of congressmen who agree to take small contributions only.
Any of these proposals would radically change the way campaigns are be funded, and remove the power that the tiniest fraction - 0.05% of us - now has over our politics.
But why a "rebellion"?
It's a fun fact about New Hampshire that its Constitution is one among seven in the United States that expressly protects the the "right of revolution" (Article 10). But we're not calling for a revolution — yet. And we don't mean to "rebel" against the ordinary processes of government. Indeed, we want to use those procedures, and in particular, the presidential primary in 2016, to bring about the reform we believe this nation needs.
But we do want to "rebel" against the ordinary game that American politics plays. Every four years, candidates come to New Hampshire and tell us how they are going to "change" things. When they get to DC, all thoughts of "change" are forgotten.
We're tired of playing that game. We want to change it — by creating the pressure needed to get the politicians to do what they otherwise won't do: change the way campaigns are funded, so that the can end the system of corruption in DC.
Ok, tl;dr. Do you have any videos I can watch and share with my friends?
Check out this video by a Texas Rootstriker:
And this remix by Professor Lawrence Lessig:
And if you’ve got 18 minutes, watch Lessig’s TED Talk as well: